After undergoing a restructuring of its program and facility, Granada’s specialneeds school, formerly known as “Corazón Contento,” was re-launched this week as Los Pipitos de Granada, the newest member of the nationwide association of parents and families of disabled children.
Created in 1987, the Pipitos program takes an integral approach to working with children and adolescents with different capabilities.
In addition to providing medical care, education and training for students, the program also focuses on providing education and support networks for the families, as opposed to just day-care services.
“This is also about giving the family a place to belong, so they feel appreciated and a part of something,” said Pipitos de Granada director Paloma Andres.
It’s also about demystifying an issue that’s often been kept invisible in Nicaragua society. “This is helping forgotten citizens to integrate into society,” said U.S. expat Bill Penny, who has been a driving force behind the school since the early days of its foundation.
The Granada Pipitos school, which already has 132 students of all ages and all ranges of abilities, focuses on teaching the students self-reliance skills, creative expression, and other trades and skill sets with a focus on their integration into the community. The school also focuses on teaching good nutrition habits, and provides daily lunches and snacks.
The program is nationally and internationally renowned, working with groups such as UNICEF and benefiting from nation-wide charity drives such as the annual day-long Telethon, broadcast simultaneously on all national TV networks.
The program has had great success, including several incredible stories such as the former Pipitos student with cerebral paralysis who is now attending a university – an accomplishment that the vast majority of Nicaraguans never achieve.
Most importantly, Pipitos creates a safe and loving place for special needs students and their families, providing an environment in which both can excel. All anyone needs to do is watch the students on stage dancing Palo de mayo or reggaeton to the hoots and wild applause from the other students and their families to understand what Pipitos means to the community.
For more info, or to find out how to help with much-needed donations, email [email protected], or call 505-2552-9532.